As I scanned the posts in the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover Trainers private Facebook page, I stumbled across a ton of people declaring their mounts as #TeamTurtle or #TeamRabbit. For a moment, I thought everyone had lost their marbles, but then I made the connection. #TeamTurtle horses are progressing slow and steady with many of them not even under saddle yet. #TeamRabbit horses, however, are already showing or attending clinics despite the competition still being in the early stages.
Originally, my plan with Flash was to be #TeamRabbit. I had a long list of things I wanted to attend and expose him to this spring in hopes of getting him as much off the farm experience and retraining as possible. As life often goes, my plan went down the drain quickly following Flash’s run-in with a few minor injuries and my life totally turning upside down in February when circumstances led to me placing my main mount, Joey, up for sale.
So here I am to announce that Flashback Justice is officially #TeamTurtle and I am 100% okay with that decision. Slow and steady have been the absolute best thing for my little four-year-old. He has had October through January pretty much off to be a horse, enjoy some turnout, make some friends, and decompress (not that he needed MUCH decompressing, he is a pretty chill dude). March brought us not only a crazy change in the weather, but also a change in our plan as I had the chance to dedicate all of my time to my 2018 RRP mount after the sale of my other horse.
Aside from maybe a dozen or so sporadic rides here and there, Flash was pretty much a blank canvas when I tacked him up for the first time after a long break earlier this March. We decided to place our focus on flat work, building his muscles and teaching him how to carry himself properly before heavily focusing on over fences work. This turtle… err horse… is a sponge. Anything I throw at him, he takes in stride and quickly adapts to.
I hate to sound like one of those trainers who has no bad moments with their mount, but I truly have had no struggles with Flash so far. Our biggest issue is the buckets of rain that continue to pour down from the heavens onto Southeast Missouri in an attempt to return it to its original swamp-like state and my limited time in the saddle due to my distance from the barn.
But that is all about to change.
The always supportive Horse Show Husband, Wayne, has been hard at work at home to make my dreams come true: my horses will be in my own front yard. I plan on doing a detailed explanation of our barn raising process in a later blog entry, but we have managed to acquire a little under five acres and have been assembling my dream-come-true as quickly as possible. As I watch the walls and stalls appear before my own eyes, I grow more and more excited about the opportunity to have Flash at home and put more miles on him under saddle.
We will still be hauling out for lessons as often as possible, but we will be taking full advantage of the 400 acres of farmland and woods around us to acclimate Flash to an environment as spacious as the Kentucky Horse Park. Wayne intends on constructing some natural obstacles for me and pop them around the farm so that Flash can practice a course similar to one he may see in the field hunting course at the Makeover. We will trail ride, we will flat a ton, and we will travel so much that being #TeamTurtle in the beginning will pay off in the long run.
With the move-in date of mid-May growing nearer, I continue to work on Flash’s foundation while he is being boarded at Fox Run Stables. Typically, we flat for 30-45 minutes and then introduce him to some teeny, tiny, baby jumps for 10-15 minutes. While he is not the most graceful or coordinated at this point, he is so willing. He has yet to refuse a jump and has only ever really given a good hard look to a fence with no standards and a lot of scary orange traffic cones beneath it.
Always a trooper, however, he finally decided the cones were not dragon’s teeth and popped over the fence several times without a care. We have even started cantering some simple lines with him and he has been so game with everything we have thrown at him.
A few weeks ago on a very rare, warm and beautiful spring day in Missouri, we decided to take Flash on his very first trail ride. Our trails at Fox Run are completely wooded and there are quite a few drop offs along the side, which can be a little overwhelming for green horses. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the baby horse, but he blew me out of the water. Aside from some very excited whinnying at the top of the hill, Flash was amazing.
At one point, the other horse we were riding with didn’t want to move forward so brave little Flash stepped up and led the way. Sure, we may have over-exuberantly jumped the little muddy spot in the field, but even then he was as saintly as possible.
All in all, I am happy to be #TeamTurtle. I think it has given me a well-rounded, easy-minded mount. Sure, we have things on the agenda to push Flash out of his comfort zone in a controlled environment, but overall slow and steady wins the race. #TeamTurtle all the way!